Monash University

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Reason: Under embargo until Jan 2019. After this date a copy can be supplied under Section 51(2) of the Australian Copyright Act 1968 by submitting a document delivery request through your library

Conversations from the past: Kadaedaenigawae, tradition and change in the culture and lifestyle of the people of Nauru

posted on 2017-01-30, 23:39 authored by Barker, Suzan
Nauru is a tiny independent nation in the Central Pacific. Their colonial history has been turbulent. The Nauruans, however, have demonstrated their resistance to the gradual destruction of their culture and way of life, resilience, strong spirit of survival and ability to adapt to the changes. The aim of this study is to increase the knowledge and understanding of how the Nauruan people have maintained their culture and lifestyle following colonisation and how this is connected to their wellbeing today. An Indigenous decolonising methodology has been utilised to undertake this research. This methodology engages the participants with the research process at all levels and also enables them to be part of the decision making process. Twenty nine Nauruan people participated in interviews and discussion groups, along with four others who were co-investigators. The findings chapters, using the participants’ stories, were written as letters to return the stories to the community. Qualitative description was used when analysing the interviews to ensure that it was the participants’ voices that were heard. The findings show that many aspects of Nauruan culture, such as traditional medicines, games, fishing methods, and the rites of passage, remain a part of their daily life. The findings also show how Nauruan people have made modifications to the tangible aspects of their culture and lifestyle to incorporate the changes colonisation has brought into their lives. Overall this study found that many parts of Nauruan culture are still practised and well known. However, the intangible parts, their tacit knowledge, are areas that the older Nauruans are concerned with losing. It is the intangible aspects of the culture that link closely to their wellbeing along with their strong sense of identity as a unique people. The findings demonstrate the importance of documenting strategies for sustainable development where traditional knowledge and practices of value to daily living are, in the medium term plan, to be re-incorporated into the lives of Nauruan people. For the Nauruan people, this study shows the need for the revitalisation of their culture and traditions, both tangible and intangible, to be an ongoing part of the Nauruan government policies and practices.


Principal supervisor

Anske Robinson

Additional supervisor 1

Maria Gaiyabu

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Rural Health

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences